DK Metcalf, Receiver
School: Mississippi | Conference: SEC
Experience: RS-Sophomore| Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 230 lbs?
Projected Draft Status: Round 1
NFL Comparison: David Njoku
Dane Brugler gave up these advanced stats: Metcalf ran a high volume of vertical routes (go routes, curls, comebacks, etc.), which showed off his downfield abilities (of his 26 catches in 2018, five receptions were 50-plus yards and nine were 30-plus yards).
DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf, better known as DK Metcalf, is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf. A four-star recruit and 10th-ranked receiver in the 2016 class, DK followed in his father’s footsteps by going to Ole Miss. Metcalf scored a pair of touchdowns on his first two collegiate catches as a true freshman but broke his foot in the second game of the season, forcing a medical redshirt. After a successful return in 2017, DK was already earning the attention of NFL scouts and draft media going into the 2018 season.
The Neck Injury
Last October, Metcalf suffered a neck injury, ending his season. Just a red-shirt sophomore, he elected to declare for the draft instead of going the Mike Williams route (Williams suffered a neck injury but returned for senior season at Clemson before being drafted in Rd1 by the Chargers).
Ole Miss WR DK Metcalf, a projected 1st-round pick who underwent neck surgery last October, was cleared today for all football activity with no limitations, per Dr Kevin Foley, who performed his surgery. Metcalf is training for combine and will participate in all activities there— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 25, 2019
While we may learn more after the NFL Combine, Cover-1 does a great job looking into Metcalf’s medicals, and they conclude the neck injury shouldn’t be an issue going forward.
As a sophomore, Metcalf measured in at 6 feet 3, 224 pounds to go with an 11-1 broad jump, 37.5-inch vertical and 4.46 40-yard dash, earning a spot on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks List. Those numbers are pretty similar to Julio Jones.
However, the numbers I will be paying more attention to will be the ones that measure change of direction, like the 3-cone drill and short shuttle.
For comparison sake, here is Ole Miss receiver DK Metcalf and Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Yes you read that right, Metcalf is a RECEIVER. pic.twitter.com/99Ds14TP7n— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) February 11, 2019
While some came away impressed with the physically imposing Metcalf, many others feel he has gotten too big for the position. Something we have seen before with former NFL receiver David Boston, and with former Redskins’ safety Laron Landry.
One of the most notable was when Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy tweeted :
“Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf is a freaky specimen but when most football people see this the blink reaction will be that he’s getting too big. At this size, NFL teams will have concerns about his upper body flexibility. Hard to adjust and extend with this kind of bulk.”
“Seen a ton of Metcalf over the years but no tape exists since he’s blown up like he is in that picture. There’s a reason everyone immediately comes up with the David Boston comparison...because he’s the only WR in the past 20 years that looks like Metcalf does right now.”
Seemingly everyone from Bucky Brooks, to Greg Gabriel, to Golf Digest (not sure why) has chimed in, and the consensus is that he is too big.
Just to get your appetite going, here is his highlight tape:
Next is a short video of Metcalf vs potential CB1, Greedy Williams.
DK Metcalf is such a size/speed specimen, just so athletic. He is a bit raw however, with a limited route tree, though his explosiveness off the line and ability to seperate could make up for that. In terms of upside, he has the highest ceiling of any WR in this class. -CS pic.twitter.com/3yWlzfJECj— Scouts Elite NFL (@ScoutsEliteNFL) January 19, 2019
- Height/weight/speed align with the Calvin Johnson/Julio Jones/Josh Gordon “X” receiver prototype.
- Huge catch radius and giant hands that appear to make the ball seem like a small toy.
- Size/strength should make him an immediate red zone weapon.
- Once he gets his momentum going, he is nearly impossible to knock off coarse.
- NFL bloodlines. He grew up around NFL football, and the professional life shouldn’t overwhelm him.
- Issues with concentration drops.
- Inexperienced, after playing in just 21 games over three seasons.
- Suffered two season-ending injuries in just three seasons.
- Ran a limited route tree (mainly go routes, comebacks, and fades) with 99% of his snaps coming at left outside receiver.
- Somewhat muscle-bound, lacking quickness, and flexibility.
- Struggles to drop his hips at the top of patterns to burst in and out of breaks.
- Is he (or has he already) outgrow the position? If so, can Metcalf transition to TE (or even as a big slot) after spending all of his time out wide?
What Others Are Saying
NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein calls Metcalf a “Big, explosive talent with projectable upside to become a home-run threat as a WR1.”
Draft Analyst Tony Pauline graded his as a 2nd rounder in his SEC film review (and after the picture of him above had circulated).
Pauline explains: “The fact is, he is too big. That picture is going to hurt his draft stock more than it is going to help. Teams are going to say he’s too tight and too big to play receiver...and that really comes off on film...because he’s very unpolished...he shows no quickness...he has limited burst...it’s more build up speed. He’s a good athlete, but he’s an unpolished receiver and a big bodied guy that beats down opponents on the college level. He’s going to have to find ways to get separation. I think it’s going take a while to transition.”
Talking about Metcalf’s neck injury, SeahawksDraftBlog creator, Rob Staton said Metcalf “was prepared for the possibility of never playing again. He got an insurance policy. He’s very savvy and has a great deal of business sense. He’s already talked about setting up a chain of cheese restaurants. In a year or two, is he going to hang it up (due to his neck)?”
Staton continues “His touted combine performance matches Julio Jones. Receivers have changed in the NFL. The guys that produce, they are not the biggest anymore. They are kind of sudden. Quickness and suddenness is more important than size. I think that’s something the Seahawks have shown with the selection of Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett.”
RotoExperts’s Davis Mattek further points out the only NFL WRs “that size” who had more than 50 targets last season were Mike Evans, Demaryius Thomas, and Kelvin Benjamin.
Fran Duffy summarizes the good and the bad: “ Think of big, physical, explosive threats on the outside who were questioned because of their route-running abilities coming out of college and their ability to transition to the NFL. Metcalf is extremely gifted. He also ran a very limited route tree with the Rebels, and his success rate in contested situations wasn’t as high as you’d think considering his frame. There are better players in this receiver class, guys who are ready to step onto an NFL field right now, line up, and play winning football. But there is no better “prospect” at the position than Metcalf with all of his physical gifts.”
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Like most NFL teams, the Redskins could certainly use a Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones caliber receiver. While Metcalf’s career production (67-1228-14 in three seasons) isn’t that great, he has the size, speed, and physical traits to become a premier wide receiver.
He missed 16 games to a pair of season-ending injuries, but there is optimism that his long-term health has been unaffected.
My choice of David Njoku, a tight end, may seem like a curious comparison. Am I already suggesting Metcalf has outgrown the receiver position and needs to move to tight end?
No. It’s more about his physical profile, estimated draft position, and the fact that both entered the NFL after their red-shirt sophomore seasons. Additionally, going into his 3rd season, we are still waiting for a true breakout season from Njoku. Despite his NFL bloodlines, and physical dominance, I expect Metcalf will require a similar time frame before he can be considered among the NFL’s top receivers.
Metcalf has the potential to be considered a “high ceiling” prospect. It is easy to envision him winning in the NFL in ways that are similar to Josh Gordon. There’s also the risk that Metcalf flames out in a way that that is similar to the path of David Boston.